Education plays a pivotal role in driving the economic growth of any economy
Today, over a billion people live in slums which is 14% of the world’s population. When it comes to early literacy and education, there are regions across India that are left behind in unlocking the opportunities to embrace quality education. On top of that, children face health-related problems like malnutrition and other illnesses with the ceaselessly increasing urbanization and urban slums.
Acknowledging this scenario, there are some organizations and institutions, that are distinguishing the role of education in enhancing the socio-economic conditions of slums across the country. They are striving to improve the educational attainment level of urban poor and driving the country towards better economic growth.
One such institution providing quality education to the underprivileged children at an affordable cost is SNEH Community Preschool. This preschool is an early literacy initiative run by SNEH Foundation since 2013. It is a platform offering services related to early literacy and education along with healthcare to as many children from the marginalized communities intending to roll out sustainable solutions for today and tomorrow.
The Foundation and Beyond
Dr. Pankaj Bohra and his wife Mrs. Shweta Jain along with a group of volunteers established SNEH Foundation in 2011 with an aim to nurture the society through sustainable solutions. Recognizing the situation of slum areas in PCMC and across Pune, they laid the cornerstones of a community Pre-School model assisting early childhood education. The volunteers started putting their best foot forward in spreading awareness about the importance of early literacy.
A major boost to this education model was and is the Right To Education (RTE) which helped SNEH Foundation in generating awareness about the online admission process. Subsequently, the strength of the students has increased from 25 to 490 students from which most of them are getting enrolled in Primary schools through RTE and 100% of them through other means. If children get selected through RTE they can study in English Medium Private school at No-minimal cost. Today, with the foundation’s consistent efforts and dedication, majority of its children are studying in various renowned English medium schools.
However, coping in these schools may be challenging for these kids because of the difference in the environment and a lot of other changes. So to help them cope with this, volunteers from SNEH conduct support classes for these kids on weekends so as to ensure smooth transition from community preschool to a private English medium school.
Since inception, SNEH Foundation has been focusing on holistic development and activity-based education alongside generating awareness in parents. It works on various issues like sanitation, open drainages, open defecation, family planning, clean drinking water, and malnutrition to inculcate the overall development of the entire community with its Preschool centres. The organization has also started training and employing females from the same communities as assistant teachers so that the schools are sustainable in the longer run. Besides, the safety of the children is of utmost importance, at SNEH Foundation.
Starting with one preschool in Kalewadi in 2013, today it has branches in slum areas of Shanti Nagar & Balaji Nagar – Bhosri, Kalakhadak – Wakad, Kelewadi – Kothrud, Anand Nagar – Chinchwad. SNEH Community Preschools work on sponsorship model where we look for sponsors for each child that donates 6000/- per child per year and some % of the funds are taken as fees from the students’ parents so that they value the services that are being given. The fees is as low as 200/- per month in some communities and while in some where the SEXS is slightly better its 500/- per month. Together using these funds, SNEH manages to give the students all the school supplies like Uniforms, bags, text books, notebooks, etc. along with education, health and nutrition related services.
Recently, SNEH Foundation has also given a franchise to Madhurbhav Senior Living Home to start SNEH Community Preschool for children of Nerhe village.
Meet the Team
Ms. Shraddha Deo is the CEO of the SNEH Foundation. She is a Bachelor of Science with a specialization in Early Childhood Care & Education and has also done her Masters in Clinical Psychology. Ms. Shraddha along with Dr. Pankaj is instrumental in monitoring and managing all the projects at SNEH. The core team members and volunteers that help SNEH Community Preschool run smoothly are Vinay Khare, Dr. Pramila Pansare, Shweta Jain, Mudit Gupta, Avi Tiwari, Mohan Sahu, Vijay Therokar, Sejal Waghmare, Suchita Rajesh, Aditi Dhupkar along with dedicated Pre-school supervisors Ms. Sonal Bhoyar and Ms. Snehal Kulkarni, and social worker Ravi Ambore.
Another major asset to SNEH is its ‘Teachers’ who always tread an extra mile to pass on a better educational ecosystem to the existing as well as future generations. They leave no stones unturned in surpassing all the day-to-day challenges coming their way and stand upright as the backbone of SNEH Community Preschool.
SNEH’s Take on Safety
“We have made it a point to put the safety of the children first,” says the core team.
Maintaining a good teacher-child ratio and effective sanitation across the school premises is SNEH’s forte. In some of its branches, laptops and computers are used to provide audio-visual education. It uses WhatsApp to connect with the teachers and supervisors to share updates, issues, etc. with the parents and derive prompt solutions. Embracing technology brings the organization close to its donors and CSR companies and keep them updated about the children’s growth through their progress reports, monthly reports, and profiles sent to them personally.
Striving for Better
Apart from offering quality education, SNEH also stands tall in putting some extra efforts like:
- All the festivals, events are celebrated in the preschool centres at low cost but with complete enthusiasm
- Concept of home-schooling is taught to the parents so that the same inputs can be given to the children
- Health check-ups and assistance is done by the healthcare team
- Prioritizing ‘Nutrition’, the parents are trained to make various recipes out of ingredients that are low cost and easily available and Enhancing utilization of Govt. Facilities like use of Take home ration, mid day meals, vaccination etc. is promoted through awareness about the same.
- World Contraception Day, World Hand Wash Day, National Nutrition Week, International Breastfeeding Week are celebrated for generating parents & community awareness thereby, promoting the holistic development of children and their families
- Children are also helped to participate in various competitions at inter-school level
- During festivals like Diwali, employment opportunities are given to the parents by giving them diyas & bottles to paint and then sold in corporate companies or residential societiesSome parents have been given opportunities to put up Healthy food stalls where they can sell healthy foods at minimal cost so that children can consume home-made products rather than having Junk food items like chips, biscuits etc.
A Long Way to Go
Talking about SNEH’s future plans the core team says, “We want to build centres in the communities that act as one-stop shops for services related to health, education, and nutrition, and build a group of volunteers/leaders from the same communities so that they can take the ownership of those centres in the future.”
SNEH continuously works with a vision to expand its wings across each urban and rural slum in India with its Preschools. It is also planning to make international expansions to those countries that require early literacy initiatives. It’s all set to be a one-of-a-kind brand providing health, education, and nutrition-related services to mankind in the coming times.
Explore more about SNEH Foundation at – www.snehfoundationindia.org